Data Confirms Google Is Wiping Out A Whole Category Of Websites

Chris CrumSearch

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Last month, we reported that Google may have just killed a whole category of websites - lyrics sites. New data shows that search visibility for some of these sites has indeed drastically declined. While it's interesting enough for this particular niche, it also highlights how Google is capable of basically wiping out an entire niche by adding one type of direct answer to its search results. That, of course, is something it's doing more and more of as time goes on, and it's bound to hurt third-party websites as it does.

Are you worried that Google is squeezing out too many third-party websites in favor of its own content? Let us know in the comments.

While Google doesn't display lyrics in search results for every song, or even for every type of lyric query, it does so for many basic queries. Last month, we used "goodbye horses lyrics" as an example. Search for that, and Google displays the following:

As we also noted at the time, Google displays a link to Google Play at the bottom of the box, which would seem to give those complaining about any "anti-competitive" practices Google may engage in something new to complain about. Clicking the link takes you to a Google Play page that hosts the lyrics, and lets you purchase the song from Google. Some queries will even cut off the lyrics and send you to the Google Play page before you can even read them all:

There's no way this wasn't going to hurt lyrics sites. Now SearchMetrics has put out lists of the top winners and losers of 2014 in terms of search visibility (hat tip to Search Engine Land). The "falling stars" list is littered with lyrics sites.

eLyrics.net saw a 92% drop. LyricsMode and Sing365 each fell 60%. LyricsFreak dropped 59%. MetroLyrics dropped 12%. Last.fm, which links to MetroLyrics for song lyrics saw a decline of 18%.

Take a look at the full list:

Domain Loss in % Category
guardian.co.uk -100 *Redirected
mayoclinic.com -97 *Redirected
elyrics.net -92 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
patch.com -72 Web Portal
lyricsmode.com -60 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
sing365.com -60 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
lyricsfreak.com -59 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
tvtropes.org -59 News/Video
discovery.com -59 News/Video
starpulse.com -57 News/Video
thefreedictionary.com -54 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
topix.com -49 Social/Portal
thesaurus.com -48 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
nndb.com -45 Info
netflix.com -45 News/Video
myspace.com -40 Social/Portal
aol.com -39 Internet/Computer/Tech
flickr.com -39 Social/Portal
chicagotribune.com -37 News/Video
nbcnews.com -36 News/Video
funnyordie.com -35 Social/Portal
answers.com -35 Q&A/Expert
examiner.com -35 News/Video
alexa.com -34 Info
simplyrecipes.com -32 Social/Portal
tumblr.com -31 Social/Portal
ask.com -30 Internet/Computer/Tech
askmen.com -28 Blog
indeed.com -27 Classif
zap2it.com -27 News/Video
zazzle.com -27 Retail
expedia.com -27 Travel
moviefone.com -26 News/Video
blogspot.com -26 Blog
foxnews.com -24 News/Video
dailymotion.com -23 News/Video
photobucket.com -23 Social/Portal
toptenreviews.com -22 Price/Classif
wikitravel.org -22 Travel
food.com -21 Cooking
msn.com -21 News/Video
howstuffworks.com -21 Q&A/Expert
mashable.com -21 Blog
enchantedlearning.com -21 Q&A/Expert
cbsnews.com -21 News/Video
usatoday.com -20 News/Video
latimes.com -20 News/Video
nba.com -18 Info
last.fm -18 Social/Portal
rapgenius.com -17 *Redirected
gethuman.com -16 Info
crunchbase.com -16 Info
nydailynews.com -15 News/Video
nytimes.com -15 News/Video
city-data.com -14 Adress
cnn.com -13 News/Video
huffingtonpost.com -13 News/Video
nationalgeographic.com -12 News/Video
whitepages.com -12 Adress
metrolyrics.com -12 Enc/Dict/Lyrics
medicalnewstoday.com -11 Med
retailmenot.com -11 Price/Classif
perezhilton.com -10 Blog

RapGenius saw a decline of negative 17%, though there's a little more to that story. As SearchMetrics notes, it now redirects to Genius, so that can account for a drop in visibility on that domain.

At the tail end of 2013, Rap Genius was penalized by Google, but the penalty was quickly lifted early last year. The company has since expanded its business model into annotations of content beyond lyrics. In fact, they've already been in the news this week with ambitions of annotating the web.

SearchMetrics shows the visibility picture for RapGenius.com and Genius.com with the re-direct occurring in mid-July.

Genius and Rap Genius
Lyrics are still a substantial part of the site, and it's worth noting that Genius.com's visibility has been shaky with a noticeable downward trend at the end of the year. SearchMetrics compares this to MayoClinic, which re-directed from a .com to a .org, and had a lot better luck:

mayo clinic search visibility
Suffice it to say, the picture is a bit bleak for lyrics sites. Granted, we don't know how much of the drop-off in visibility for these sites is a direct result of Google's showing lyrics in its search results (though I'd guess a significant amount). Lyrics sites have often appeared on loser lists from SearchMetrics in connection with various iterations of the Panda update.

Another thing worth noting is that one lyrics site actually appears on the winners list this time. AZLyrics managed to post a gain of 24% Perhaps this is a result of declines from competitors.

Bing shows lyrics on its search results pages too, but doesn't appear to do so for all the same songs Google does.

Are the search engines going too far with the amount of information they're showing directly on results pages? Let us know what you think.

Images via Google, SearchMetrics

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.